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The Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA, a branch of the Central Connecticut Coast YMCA, Dance Program decorated their dance studio for the month of February with positive messages written by their performing dancers, along with encouraging quotes to promote self-love and positive body imaging within their dance studio.

“As a dancer, you spend a lot of time looking into the mirror,” said Dance coordinator Anisah Richardson (Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA) “It isn’t long before you may view yourself differently than others see you.”

Throughout the month, Y dancers participated in exercises that allowed them to acknowledge themselves and other dancers in a positive way.

In one exercise, Dance Love Letters, dancers drew the name of a classmate and anonymously wrote that person a letter admiring their dancing abilities, physical appearance, and/or personality. Many love letters were written for each dancer.

At the end of the month the sealed envelopes were given to each dancer so they could see themselves as the other dancers saw them. These personal letters were a gift they could take home with them.

For teenage-level dancers, exercises were more focused on developing an appreciation for their bodies. The Dear Body exercise gave dancers, as a group, the opportunity to discuss important questions; ‘What did your body help you do today?’ and ‘Do you often get frustrated with your body? If so, what are some things you should remember when you do?’

The exercise concluded in writing a thank you letter to their bodies for something their body helped them do that day.

Modern dancer, Laura Buttress a member of the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA said, “Dear Body, Thank you for waking up. Thank you for supporting me when I am at my lowest and thank you for pushing through the hardest of times. Love, Laura.”

The Lakewood-Trumbull Y concluded Love Yourself Month with a seminar that featured an open conversation with Lauren Russo, a guest dancer at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a senior at Fordham University.

Russo began her dance training with the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA, and returned to her first dance home to answer questions about what the current dance world is like while sharing how she instills a positive attitude throughout her dance journey.

The seminar also included a discussion led by the Lakewood-Trumbull Y’s Fitness Coordinator, Joanne Orenstein on how to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle, while being able to recognize common eating disorders that some dancers often struggle with.

At the end of the seminar, dancers shared their final thoughts on Love Yourself Month and what they were able to take away from it.